Scott Michaux

Sports columnist for The Augusta Chronicle. | ScottMichaux.com

Michaux: Not even intruder could upstage Simpson at U.S. Open

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SAN FRANCISCO — What was the most enduring image of the 2012 U.S. Open at Olympic?

Webb Simpson turned in back-to-back 68s over the weekend en route to his first major championship.  CHARLIE RIEDEL/ASSOCIATED PRESS
CHARLIE RIEDEL/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Webb Simpson turned in back-to-back 68s over the weekend en route to his first major championship.

Was it Lee Westwood staring up a cypress tree with binoculars?

Was it Jim Furyk snapping his drive on the 70th hole?

Was it Webb Simpson kissing his wife in the locker room?

Or was it a squawking fool dressed in Union Jack colors photo-bombing the trophy presentation?

The last thing certainly “spiced up” the stuffed blue-coat ceremony, prompting Simpson to laugh and USGA executive director Mike Davis to become a bouncer.

“Enjoy the jail cell, pal,” Simpson ad-libbed during his interview with Bob Costas.

“That was a 10 out of 10,” Simpson said of Davis’ teeth-gritting, arm-yanking restoration of order. “He appeared in front of me and I didn’t know if it was part of the deal. I’ve never won a major. I didn’t know what to expect. And I saw some fury in Mike’s eyes. But I didn’t really know what to do. I just kind of laughed.”

It was just another winning moment for the 26-year-old Simpson, who stole the show with an exemplary 68-68 weekend that included four birdies in five holes Sunday before eight pars won him the tournament.

Simpson won the new Jack Nicklaus Medal, but there were plenty of other relative successes and failures at the U.S. Open.

BIRDIE: First-timers. Simpson becomes the ninth consecutive newcomer to the major champions club and the 12th in the past 13 majors. The quality is deeper than ever.

BOGEY: Jim Furyk. He didn’t make any birdies Sunday, but it was the snapped drive on No. 16 that derailed a major that was his to lose. It will haunt him like the bogey on No. 17 at Oakmont and the missed 5-footer at Winged Foot.

BIRDIE: Davis Love III. The American Ryder Cup captain is loving the fact that young Yanks have won three consecutive majors. The U.S. is reasserting itself after a six-major drought.

BOGEY: Graeme McDow­ell. Hitting only four fairways cost him a chance to win a second major and keep Northern Ireland’s U.S. Open streak alive. But his rebound challenge to nearly force a playoff showed mettle.

PAR: Padraig Harrington. Two four-putts Thursday and a closing bogey Sunday proved too costly, but the slumping Irishman displayed new life with a late rally that almost scored a fourth major.

BIRDIE: Michael Thompson. In his first major as a pro, he posts two low rounds of the day and scores a runner-up finish on the same course he was runner-up on at the 2007 U.S. Amateur. Both results qualified him to play in the Masters Tournament.

BOGEY: Tiger Woods. As close as he looked to the “old Tiger” in claiming the 36-hole lead, Tiger just looked old in two wasted rounds on the weekend. He can and will still win; he just doesn’t quite have that former magic.

BIRDIE: John Peterson. Scores his first hole-in-one and a tie for fourth in his first career major. That’ll get the young pro into Augusta next April.

BOGEY: Lee Westwood. The same golf gods who blessed Lee Janzen with two tree-aided U.S. Open titles must really not want the Englishman to win a major.

PAR: Ernie Els. Just like at Pebble Beach two years ago, Els rose and fell in the final round to miss another major opportunity. Finishing ninth cost him an automatic Masters invite, but his No. 39 world ranking is on the right track.

BOGEY: Rory McIlroy. Defending champ was never a factor and left prematurely, leaving behind questions about whether he can handle the harshest tests that most majors present.

BIRDIE: Beau Hossler. Closing double cost him the low amateur medal, but the 17-year-old two-time U.S. Open qualifier won over a lot of hearts by getting in contention with 13 birdies – three more than Tiger.

BOGEY: Luke Donald. The world No. 1 missed the cut to maintain that glaring void in his major résumé.

BIRDIE: Casey Martin. The abandoned 10-shot rule cost him a made cut, but just seeing him compete with courage and guts and then hang out to support his friend Tiger was inspirational.

BOGEY: Phil Mickelson. The recently minted Hall of Famer lost his opening tee shot and never got better. His mood was mostly sour, and a 15-minute Thursday warmup raised suspicions that he wasn’t feeling quite right.

BIRDIE: Jack Fleck and Billy Casper. The first two winners at Olympic were ubiquitous all week, with Fleck especially getting his due respect after 57 years of being mostly maligned for beating Ben Hogan.

BIRDIE: Olympic burger dogs. The club’s famous hot-dog-shaped cheeseburgers were a huge hit and should soon be imitated at halfway houses everywhere.

PAR: The Olympic Club. It’s reputation as the graveyard of favorites remains, and it certainly withstood tests against par, if you like seeing that kind of thing.

BIRDIE: West Coast sites. The typically perfect California weather reigned (not rained) supreme and the primetime exposure back East only bodes well for future frequent returns.

BOGEY: NBC. The network makes the call on the late TV times that show zero regard for fans in overseas markets (3:30 a.m. finish in McDowell’s hometown). Losing Tiger from the telecast surely cost major ratings points against the NBA Finals.

BIRDIE: Bible study. Both 2012 majors have been won by two of the tour’s more outwardly religious players.

PAR: Mike Davis. The USGA chief used some uncharacteristic set-up gimmicks to trick up the course and put bite back in the U.S. Open. But his aggressive response to the trophy disruption was an all-time classic moment.

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justthefacts
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justthefacts 06/19/12 - 10:34 am
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Rory

Not sure about McIlroy. Maybe he was adorned the next "Tiger" too quickly by the people that are suppose to know these things.

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